On Saturday 16th September, the much-hyped event to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the closure of Liverpool’s dearly loved tram system was held at the Birkenhead tramway. In fact, the annual anniversary had already been marked two days earlier with the Mayor of Liverpool attending, Liverpool 245 running in passenger service and a number of talks and presentations.
The main event on the Saturday saw Liverpool 245 take centre stage, as this tram was in fact used on the very last day of Liverpool’s trams and was one of the final cars to run as part of the closing ceremonies. 245 was running throughout the day, along with Wallasey 78 which has no connection with the Liverpool event but is such a fantastic tram that its use is always welcome! Sadly due to some ongoing issues connected with its motors, Liverpool 762 was unable to run in service and so was displayed on the stub track at Taylor Street for the duration of the event, whilst Liverpool horse car 43 was displayed in front of the Pacific Road arts centre. There were also a good number of vintage vehicles present, and a timetabled service using historic Liverpool buses which proved popular. This meant that it was possible to ride on one of the last trams to run in Liverpool, immediately followed by one of the buses that replaced it!
One of the highlights of the day was a parade led by 245 and also featuring some of the Liverpool buses in attendance, and bringing up the rear, the resident Liverpool Guy tower wagon which was recently returned to operational status to enable it to participate at this event. All four vehicles made a splendid sight in their matching green paint, no doubt bringing back many memories of this long-lost tramway operator in its final days.
One of the more mysterious elements of the day was a big announcement at 1500, regarding something very special that would be put on display after many years, in connection with Liverpool Museums. After a great deal of speculation this turned out to be a large-scale model of a Liverpool bogie tramcar 875, which had been built by Liverpool Corporation apprentices in 1923.
In spite of a few setbacks, the volunteers at Birkenhead did their best to create a unique and special occasion which seems to have been greatly enjoyed by those who attended it. Obviously it would have been wonderful if Liverpool 869 from Crich could have joined 245 for the event, or indeed if fellow ‘Baby Grand’ car 293 could have been repatriated from the USA – maybe one day? – but considering the tramway had only one operational Liverpool tram available, they did a very good job of marking this important and historic milestone.